I was lucky enough to attend the annual Texas Computer Education Association Convention in early February, also my first visit to Austin. At the annual Educator Awards and Scholarships Reception, sponsored by SAS, TCEA President Kari Murphy honored nominees and winners, including Classroom Teacher of the Year and Instructional Technology Specialist of the Year. Each finalist had embraced technology, but more importantly, these education leaders positively impact Texas students. Let me simply add our congratulations to all of the finalists.
Recurring themes at TCEA included flipped classrooms, one-to-one iPad initiatives, project-based learning, collaborative learning, integration of social media, and more. There was so much to learn in conference sessions that I actually wondered where a teacher would even start! But start they did, and I was impressed by the excitement in the halls and session rooms and how that buzz found its way to the exhibit hall.
This is where I come in, demonstrating SAS® Curriculum Pathways® and answering questions in our booth in the exhibit hall. Here the atmosphere was electric, with administrators, IT team leaders, instructional technology and media specialists, and classroom teachers eager for new ideas and technologies to take back to their districts.
This exhibit hall felt different from others I have experienced, with students demonstrating their prize-winning robots, and roving security cams snaking down the aisles. There was more of a shared give-and-take, rather than the more common vibe of vendors simply competing for a moment of an attendee's attention.
Talking with prospective users of SAS Curriculum Pathways, I felt like an award winner myself. Everyone who stopped by our booth for a conversation—because they had heard about this “free” product and had to see it to believe it, or because they happened to wander by—departed with enthusiasm. They just could not get over the wealth and quality of the resources, the availability of online support and professional development, and the bottom line that fits every school’s budget. Again and again I answered the question, "How can this be free?"
I hope to go back to a balmier Austin someday; a beautiful city that was just a bit cold that week. But my memories of the warm reception by educators from across the South easily made up for a little Texas mid-winter chill.